SCANDINAVIAN R5A, Section 1: The Fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen

TuTh 8-9:30 , 228 Dwinelle. Instructor: TBA

Units: 4

This course satisfies the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

Children all over the world have grown up with Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales, such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” as they have been translated from Danish into over 125 languages. Although Andersen originally subtitled his fairytale collections “Told for Children,” he was equally interested in reaching an adult audience. The fairytales therefore address the burgeoning modernity of Andersen’s Denmark, and the issues that arose with it, many of which are still relevant today: e.g., the consequences of technology; the role of women and girls in society; the risks of conformist thinking; and the unique psychology of children. Unlike the Brothers Grimm, who collected folktales passed down through the oral tradition, Andersen based the vast majority of his fairytales on literary sources, or invented them with his own imagination; fairytales of this sort are known as Kunstmärchen (“art-fairytales”). In order to contrast Andersen with the folkloric tradition, this course will begin with readings in translation of the German folklore of the Grimms and the Norwegian folktales collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe. We will then read Andersen’s fairytales in translation and observe how the Kunstmärchen genre gave Andersen the freedom to respond to the challenges of a modernizing and evolving Europe. Along the way, we will supplement our reading of the fairytales with scholarly articles, and broaden our discussion by examining modern adaptations of Andersen’s work, such as Disney’s Frozen.


Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories

ISBN: 978-0385189514

Course reader

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.